Despite the existence of tier three data centres locally, several organisations in Nigeria still host their data outside the country, how can local patronage be encouraged?
The industry needs to engage with local organisations and drive conversations about why using local data centres is better. Nigeria has embarked on its digital transformation journey, but governance needs to run through the full stack, from infrastructure, to cloud, to connectivity, and for this dynamic to be accelerated and for it to succeed, we cannot overestimate the importance of local data centres, which need to be the initial point of access for any broad-based digital adoption and transformation strategy. As you are aware that NDPB /NITDA is encouraging the Data Domiciliation frame work, we expect the mindset of the local organisations to change. Likewise, the growth of local cloud market is expected to support this.
The increasing rate of internet penetration has led to an increased demand for data centres across Africa. What does the future of the data centre market look like in Africa?
Africa is on the brink of a data centre boom as internet penetration rates rise and the continent begins to play catch-up with its international counterparts. Currently, Africa accounts for less than 1% of the world’s co-location data centre supply, with South Africa making up the bulk of Africa’s capacity.
However, more and more customers in Africa are using data centres to access public cloud-based services from hosts such as AWS, Google and Microsoft, and we expect to see a significant wave of data centre investments (including our own) materialize across Africa, with regional economic powerhouses such as South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria at the vanguard of this. Other markets of importance include Ghana and Morocco, which are also attracting international investment. This growth is being driven in part by advances in connectivity and data consumption, especially as smartphone penetration grows on the continent.
Similarly, as broadband penetration increases, download speeds are also rising rapidly, which in turn, is boosting data consumption. Undersea cables too, have dramatically increased broadband capacity, which is crucial to the success of local data centres. Add to this the increasing adoption of cloud services, which means more organisations are migrating their data and processes off-premise and into hosted and other third-party data centres.
Finally, the worldwide move towards hosting data closer to where it is ultimately consumed, fueled by data protection regulations, issues of data residency and sovereignty, and the need to lower latency to enable better content streaming and other functions, is driving in the region.
In 2022, ADC launched its 20MW data centre facility in Lagos. What informed this decision and what has been its impact on the Nigerian economy? The 20MW Lagos facility serves as the de facto hub for Africa Data Centres in West Africa. The facility was built in response to the massive demand from hyper-scalers, key cloud operators and multi-national enterprises that already use our facilities and expressed interest in being a part of bringing digitisation at scale to West Africa.
As the unquestioned leaders in data centre operations in Africa, we were the clear choice as partners in their expansion strategies. Nigeria benefits from this facility by having its data assets kept within its borders, which will ensure digital sovereignty.
In Nigeria, as with the rest of the world, nothing has a greater potential to transform societies than ICTs, and data centres top this list. They promise growth, prosperity, and promote greater inclusion and social cohesion as well as environmental sustainability. It goes beyond merely technological infrastructure, to become social infrastructure, connecting communities, systems, and people. Digitization is known to create job opportunities across a slew of industries and the Nigerian facility stands to boost the economy through job creation.
Also let’s look at the various government agencies and their push towards data domiciliation, 7 cables landing here in Lagos, this can give a sense of volume of data traffic in Nigeria. At Africa Data Centres, we pride ourselves on being the largest network of 100% interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities on the continent.
What sets us apart is our commitment to lowering our carbon footprint, and as a company that promotes sustainability, we cannot emphasise enough that there will be no question of sacrificing the environment to carry out our ambitious digitisation plans.
Our strategy goes far beyond boosting our bottom line, for us, it is all about empowering and uplifting Africa’s citizens, protecting the environment, and uplifting the economy. We are not just here for the money, we are here to provide jobs, and work with African’s leaders to achieve its digital ambitions.
What are the challenges facing data centers today? Are these challenges unique to the Nigerian market? To build a data centre, you need three things – a suitable piece of land, connectivity, and power. The connectivity problem has been addressed to a large extent, with a wide range of great companies offering effective connectivity solutions.
However, the power problem will remain the challenge of the decade, but it’s not just a Nigerian or African issue. North America, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe are all dealing with the same problem, Exacerbating the fact is that we all use a lot more electricity than we did in the past.
Our power providers were not forward-thinking, and this will remain the biggest challenge going forward. To have reliable power & distribution of power, the providers need to think forward and come up with quality solutions.
Every country has a different operating model. What we do in South Africa will not work in Kenya, and what we do in Kenya will not work in Nigeria. Africa has very different cultures and governing structures, so the same rules do not apply to all. With the gradual rollout of 5G technology and the country currently implementing a digital economy agenda, what critical roles will data centres be playing in all of this?
The global Covid-19 pandemic led to an increased demand for data centres and the data centre industry is undergoing a massive expansion. All of us in the data centre industry are anticipating many changes that will need to be made in the future, including sustainable infrastructure, digital transformation, Web 3, AI and of course, 5G.
5G is critical to supporting remote work, telehealth, e-commerce, digital, smart cities and even the metaverse. We can expect to see many data centre providers adapting their focus and looking for ways to support 5G to enable these requirements. As we know, NCC has announced the 5G licences and we can expect the rollout of these networks soon.
Africa Data Centres is the continent’s largest network of interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities. What roles are ADC playing in data business?
Africa Data Centres(ADC) is one of Africa’s largest network of interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities with a pan-African footprint and facilities located across the continent’s major regional business and trade hubs, including Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, while there are plans to double our footprint across the continent.
These locations are rapidly emerging as epicenters for public and private cloud hosting, attracting both multinationals and the largest African enterprises. We offer international expertise, bringing global skills and expertise to all markets in which we operate, and our exceptionally experienced team has the experience and knowledge to provide only the best support.
Our data centres are designed, built and operated to the highest standards demanded by today’s leading global cloud providers, carriers and enterprises – providing our customers with peace of mind, regardless of the scale of requirement.
Finally, we employ the most robust security, to ensure the physical security of data and transactional computer processing remains a key priority from the physical layer up. Onsite security is boosted through multiple layers, and we employ a combination of physical security, biometric access control and CCTV systems.
The purpose since inception remains to unveil various business opportunities and develop a strategic network of partnerships to further strengthen and grow our market share in Africa while providing high-quality interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities.
We are dedicated to being the heart that beats African businesses, thereby supporting the continent’s digital economy and adding more employment opportunities. How is Africa Data Centres working on limiting the impact on environment at it expands its presence in the continent?
At Africa Data Centres, we take our impact on the environment extremely seriously. In fact, with each facility we carefully consider our sustainability and responsibility in terms of what our impact on natural resources will be. Currently, our aim is to ensure that all our centres are powered by solar.
The African data centre market is small by global standards but is growing fast. Furthermore, the continent is on the brink of a data centre boom as internet penetration rate is on the rise and the continent begins to play catch-up with its international counterparts. What this means is, there is an opportunity for African data centre operators to put in place best practise as data centres are rolled out and this includes going solar.
As a company that promotes sustainability, we cannot emphasis enough that there will be no question of sacrificing the environment to carry out our ambitious digitization plans. This is a trade-off Africa Data Centres is simply not even prepared to contemplate. Our strategy goes far beyond boosting out bottom line, for us, it is all about empowering and uplifting Africa’s citizens, protecting the environment, and helping to grow the economy.
What are your plans for the Nigerian and African market in general? Africa Data Centres remains committed to uplifting the region by providing world-class access to data centres and networks, ushering in the age of hyper-scale to Nigeria, West Africa, and the entire African continent, to enable established businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive in today’s digital world.
In 2021, we announced our plans to invest $500m into building hyperscale data centres across Africa. So far, we have announced our goal to build ten data centres across Africa and we are sticking to it. We are currently operating in four countries, and by June, we will be adding another three to the list, one of which is Rwanda.
You can expect further announcements about other regions, including North Africa, soon. Also, as we announced earlier on the 20 MW facility in Lagos, the initial phase is up and running with clients onboarded, other than this 20MW, we are considering to add one or two more facilities in Nigeria, which we shall announce soon.